Well, here’s an unlikely rap battle beef. Megachurch leader and televangelist T.D. Jakes, 57, is threatening to sue mega rappers Kendrick Lamar, 27, and Young Jeezy, 37, over the unauthorized sampling of his sermon in Jeezy’s remixed song, “Holy Ghost (Remix).” The duo allegedly sampled Minister Jake’s sermon, “Don’t Let the Chatter Stop You” without his express authorization.
A post on the Facebook page of Jakes’ Dallas-based ministry spells it out: “SPECIAL NOTICE: We are taking the necessary legal actions to stop the unauthorized use of T.D. Jakes’ intellectual property.”
Now, it seems a little odd to hear about a pastor suing someone, but T.D. Jakes is not just a pastor. He’s not just a businessman either. He’s a business, man. Of The Potter’s House and TDJ Enterprises, thank you very much. And he’s handling his.
It seems the tizzy was brought on by the sermon clip being slapped onto a song that includes profane language and materialistic content.
The song begins with a clip from T.D. Jakes sermon: “I’m under attack, but I’m still on fire. I got some chatter, but I’m still on fire. I got some threat, but I’m still on fire.”
Then, over an aggressive operatic beat, Young Jeezy and Kendrick Lamar rip about having their backs to the wall in the thug life, fighting to get through, winning in spades, getting betrayed, and regretting the loss of a n**ga in the game.
“Please Lord forgive him, you know he got that thug in him / We lust for alcohol and we love women / And ain’t nobody gave us nothin’ so we drug dealin’… Got the seats reclined and I be doin’ the most In the back of this Holy Ghost.”
Now, I have never heard the word Holy Ghost applied to a shiny new car, and as clever as it is, it’s easy to see why the bishop would take umbrage. T.D. Jakes clearly does not endorse this song or its message, and he is making that absolutely clear with this lawsuit. In this way, he’s attempting to protect his reputation, as well as his Christian message.
With that said, I can also see it from a different perspective. Not that I condone the illegal use of anything, but doesn’t putting T.D. Jakes’ sermon in a rap song open up his Christian message to a wider, younger, hip-hop audience? Some would argue so (especially on his Facebook page where folks are taking potshots at the bishop!) Through the Jeezy and Kendrick Lamar song, Jakes’ message of perseverance and his ministry have probably been exposed to an entire hip-hop underground that he does not normally reach. Even in the back of a Holy Ghost whip, a man still needs to find peace. Consider Lamar’s verse showing a man in conflict with his booming success and his need for inner peace. “It’s hard to say when I’m neutral / I’m tryna find out myself / Find inner peace inside heaven, find diamond piece inside hell / Will I learn?”
Bottom line: While sampling a sermon is a bit unconventional, the art of sampling is central to hip-hop. Even so, young Jeezy and Kendrick Lamar should have done the right thing, and obtained the bishop’s blessing for the song. Had they received it, perhaps both aims would have been achieved: T.D. Jakes brand and business would have been respected, and his gospel would have been preached to the hip-hop world – a world that could desperately use his words. But hey, that’s my take. What’s yours?
“Holy Ghost (Remix)” has been removed from Soundcloud but can still be heard at press time on World Star Hip Hop.